There are many ways of moving forward, but only one way of standing still.
Franklin D Roosevelt
We notice stuck. When we experience it, stuck draws our attention. We can’t see past it. We feel it pinning us down. Stuck consumes us.
When we’re stuck we become blind to possibilities. Ways to move forward. Advancement. Growth. Movement. All seem out of reach when stuck grasps us.
Yet there are always more ways of moving forwards.
Trolley points. You know, places where you return a trolley and get your money back. You find them in car parks, on train stations, in airports. You’ve made use of the trolley as part of your journey. It served a purpose and now you’re done with it. So you can return it to a tidy spot and be reimbursed. It’s gone for good.
On life’s journey we collect stuff too, but there’s not usually somewhere handy to leave it when you’re done. You end up storing it in your head. Sometimes it comes back out and trips you up, or slows you down. Sometimes you try and lock it away in a ‘cupboard’ in a corner of your brain. You know you don’t need it, or want it again. It has served its purpose on your journey. But it won’t stay there; it keeps on returning. Like a runaway trolley hitting your shins.
Trolley point anyone?
Yesterday evening two red kites were circling a neighbour’s garden. They are impressive birds when they drop from their lofty soaring heights. Strong, powerful, intimidating.
We watched, curious about their intent. It seemed they had located potential prey.
A squawking alerted us to the arrival of a crow. It flew straight at one of the kites, colliding with it in mid air. The crow, although itself large, was dwarfed by the kite.
Bravely, the crow defended its position. The kite retreated. Its pair soared high on the late evening thermals.
Like the crow, when we have something to defend which matters to us, we too can be brave beyond reason. Sometimes though we can be foolhardy. Holding on and defending a view to the point that it becomes a weakness and we expose a vulnerability.
Maybe soaring above our behaviour to get perspective is the wise thing?
There’s a lane near us that often closes due to flooding. It’s a nuisance, but when it’s shut we have to drive around to get to our destination. There are several alternatives, but each is a longer route.
We just do it though. We don’t go back home and say, “Oh well, no going to the shops today.” Nor do we drive down the lane and stop at the point where the water has risen to a foot deep, park up, and say, “We’ll wait for the floodwater to subside.”
We don’t even think about it. We turn around and try a different route.
Today in a meeting, we got stuck. We set out to achieve something as a group and every suggestion fell on stoney ground, or everything we tried seemed to move us no closer to our objective. Yet we persevered. The mood in the room became flat. Frustration emerged. Disagreements rose up like unwanted nettles in the garden. It took us nearly an hour for someone to ask, “Why are we finding this so difficult?” This gave someone else the opportunity to say, “Let’s try something different.” So we did. Completely different. And we made progress.
Strange that when our route is blocked physically, we instinctively and immediately detour. Yet when our thinking is blocked, we bash on, stubbornly persisting with our thinking. Getting further stuck as emotions then bind us up like creepers around our feet.
Turn around. Go another way.
Today I have been discombobulated.
I feel a visit to the Recombobulation unit is required.
Bank Holiday Mondays do this. A longer weekend, a shorter working week, my internal calendar all askew and confused. Tomorrow should be Tuesday but it’s Wednesday.
Patterns in our lives, conscious and unconscious – we cannot escape them. Somehow I am conditioned to believe today is Monday, because I have returned to work.
When is a pattern constraining and when is it useful? The pattern of the week helpfully allows me to unconsciously orient myself, but what do I lose? Do we lose sight of possibilities, tied down by the pattern? Does a pattern that becomes a habit make us lazy, rigid, stuck? Maybe there are many more unseen patterns in our lives, driving us down certain pathways?
Recombobulate. Recombobulate. Recombobulate.
Now I’m a Dalek !
Are you tied in knots?
All over my house, in sockets, in drawers, in boxes I have cables. Cables to connect devices to other devices, cables to charge the devices, cables carrying data, sound, pictures. Many I have forgotten what they do. Some I have duplicates because two or three devices have provided them, but I keep them… just in case.
We have many things in life too that connect us to things. To old ways of thinking, to sad memories, to things long forgotten or no longer needed. Do you play the Christmas card game? Sending cards to people you haven’t seen or spoken to in years? Do you have things in your loft, attic, cellar which are boxed up, stored away, long forgotten, but we keep them, just like the cables… just in case.
It seems cables are not the only way we get tied in knots.
My tube train stopped today at Edgware Road. The driver informed us that we would be held there for a while. There was a problem with the train in front.
It got me thinking. If a train becomes completely immovable, what happens then? The tunnel, the only route forward, is blocked. I guess we would all decamp and be forced to exit the platform, leave the station and find another way to our destination. Or I guess we could wait. Wait for life, for someone else to remove the blockage so that we can continue on our chosen path.
It struck me that in the event that this happened, we would just cope. Sure we might moan that we’ll be late, gripe about the cost of tickets and the poor service, worry that we don’t know how to get to our destination, but we would find a way. We would move on. Yet in life we often get stuck and stay stuck. Unable to see another path, we become disabled.
Of course London Underground would probably have staff available. Advice would be on hand. Guidance about how to get to our destination. Failing that, we would simply surface and surf. The Internet would tell us what to do.
Life isn’t like that. Even if people are around to listen or to give advice, our life situation is more complex, more individual, more unique, than the tube journey. The Internet doesn’t offer solutions to complicated life problems, riddled with feelings, entwined with complexities of relationship, weighed down with challenges of expectation, paralysed with the fear of coming up short in some way.
As fellow human beings, we seem hopelessly ill equipped to support each other, even if we were minded to.
Maybe this is the Internet we really need?
Interesting that some of us are stuck unless we can ask and answer the question “What’s the problem we need to fix?”
For others, the question is “What’s possible?”
It seems some of us need to know what we need to resolve, to put right. The weakness or failing of what exists now. This motivates us to move to change. To move away from the problems and challenges of now. To fix things.
Others are motivated by possibility. By opportunity. What could we achieve? What dream, goal, target, objective can we move towards? The possibility motivates us to change. Sometimes we have no sight of the actual goal, it’s the possibility there might be possibilities that motivates and excites us.
What’s your pattern? How open are you to another perspective? How disabled are you if those around you have a different perspective?
I’ve been lucky enough to spend time outside today, in the sunshine. I’ve been walking. In open space. Near a river. In nature. Exploring with likeminded people. Coaches.
Nature can teach us much. Many things we struggle with in our human existence have long ago been resolved by nature. By the elements, by other species, by animal and plant. We build buildings with sophisticated cooling systems for hot climates, whilst termites solved the problem long ago, without technology. A tree draws water sixty seventy feet up into its structure without a single pump.
Not only can nature offer us clues to solutions for practical challenges, engineering conundrums, it can also offer insight to our challenges of mind, of thought, of feeling. Challenges around our very being. Our humanity.
Walking today I noticed just how perspective changes as you take another view, turn around, move closer, move away. Useful tools for exploring our own stuckness.
It’s easy to think grass, trees, shrubs, leaves, plants are all green. But today I also noticed just how many shades of green there are. Many enhanced still further by light or shade playing on their surface.
There are shades for our human worlds too. Problems are never one shade. Opportunities are never one shade. Relationships never one shade. Our Performance never one shade. Never one shade of solution. Never one shade of right or wrong, good or bad.
We would do well to remember this. To see the shade in our lives and to get perspective.
If you’re struggling with that, maybe go outside? Walk. Look. Notice.